Amendments 2 and 4 reek of politics | Journal-news
Over the past several months, I have traveled across the state speaking with parents, teachers, firefighters, bipartisan local officials and small business owners about the harm that would be done to our state if two constitutional amendments in November 8 ballots are approved.
Amendments 2 and 4 would take power over important local schools and public services away from voters, communities and education experts and give it to partisan politicians in the Legislative Assembly. The almost certain result will be layoffs of teachers and emergency responders, larger class sizes, longer wait times for 911 calls, and more political fights in the classroom. To defend local control, for our schools and for the elderly, workers and families who depend on local services, we must vote no.
Amendment 2 would remove nearly a century of constitutional protections that give voters final say over local funding for schools and public services, and give that control over local revenues to state legislators. The Legislative Assembly has already made it clear what it intends to do with its new power over the funding of our schools and our counties: award hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations outside the state.
Amendment 4 would remove power over school policy and curriculum from nonpartisan education experts who work with parents and local school boards to make decisions and also give that power to state legislators. This would effectively make our classrooms yet another battlefront for competing political agendas.
Both of these proposals reek of politics. Proponents of these changes want to politicize our schools and take essential funds away from them, as well as our fire and emergency services, all in order to give a major tax cut to their corporate donors.
If these amendments pass, Berkeley County schools could lose nearly $7 million a year and the county and municipalities could lose $4.5 million a year, putting our fire departments, our first stakeholders, our parks and our libraries. The move would mean fewer school resources like counselors, job training programs and summer camps; and a reduced ability for parents to have a say in school decisions. And they could hurt our local economy, forcing the layoffs of firefighters, paramedics, teachers and other public servants in Martinsburg and across the state. In Berkeley County, residents have already decided that our schools are a priority by approving an excessive levy to increase funding to allow them to provide our children with the services we need – and these amendments could nullify our vote by removing us from funds and powers.
While some proponents have suggested that the state legislature could use the one-time revenue surplus to offset the losses that schools and local governments see as a result of Amendment 2, we all know that surpluses are temporary. , making the state’s promise to local governments temporary. too.
States across the country are expecting lower revenues over the next year as federal COVID relief ends, and West Virginia will be no different. When the surplus dries up, some have already suggested that they will end up raising property taxes on our homes or sales tax on the goods we buy – which weigh more heavily on local families and small business owners than taxes that would be eliminated by Amendment 2, which primarily benefits large out-of-state businesses.
Opposition to these proposals is broad and bipartisan. Anyone who understands the importance of local control over schools and county budgets knows it can only hurt our communities, from Governor Jim Justice to the West Virginia County Commissioners Association and the NAACP of Virginia- Western.
Amendments 2 and 4 were proposed by politically connected special interests. The people I’ve spoken to in communities across the state — voters, teachers, firefighters, sheriffs and parents — are the ones who would see their voices, and even their jobs, lost if these amendments pass. We must retain our power in our communities and not give up our own ability to ensure we have what we need in our schools and for the public services we all enjoy. Vote no on the 2nd and 4th November 8th.